NFL: Week 1 Starters Who'll Be out of a Job by Season's End
“Nothing ever last forever.”
This famous line also holds true for an NFL depth chart, as except for the elite, every football player must fight for his roster position each training camp.
The primary goal of an NFL starter is making it through a summer without an injury and a request by the Turk to take your playbook to the coach’s office. But for some, it’s only a momentary pause before they lose their starting position.
Here are some Week 1 starters who’ll be out of a job by season’s end:
Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick
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Perennially, the Philadelphia Eagles have battled through a quarterback controversy that surrounds the team. It hasn’t mattered whether Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick have been the starter, the fans demanded that Jeff Garcia, AJ Feeley or Kevin Kolb take over the quarterback position immediately.
Well, welcome to this year’s controversy, as rookie signal-caller Nick Foles has impressed everyone with his play in preseason.The Eagles coaching staff love his size, arm strength and ability to read sophisticated defenses. Unfortunately, Foles is a rookie that still has a lot to learn about the NFL.
No question that Vick gives the Eagles the best possible chance to win right now. But, opposing teams don’t fear his running ability, which made him dangerous to defend against. Some of Vick's declining play can be attributed to the amount injuries he sustained throughout his career.
Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
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The Dallas Cowboys are going to learn the hard way that valuing talent over character and good football IQ will not guarantee you a playoff berth. Teams that provide special treatment to troubled players, such as wide receiver Dez Bryant, can never win consistently over a course of a season.
It’s unfortunate that Bryant had a troubled childhood, but it’s unrealistic to think the Cowboys can provide a structured lifestyle to him. NFL teams are designed to win games, not to solve domestic issues. Sure, the Cowboys can impose strict rules on Bryant, but only Dez can enforce them on himself.
The bottom line, NFL teams will get rid of troubled athletes once their production numbers decline. It’s time for Bryant to become a professional football player, who can run precision pass routes, understand the entire playbook and remain in top physical condition all season.
New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw
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Enjoy it while you can, as that sound you hear coming from behind is talented rookie David Wilson, who’s coming to take your job.
No doubt that Bradshaw is fully motivated to take on all incoming challengers, but health will play a major role in his success this season. Bradshaw has been battling recurring foot injuries that has plagued him throughout his career.
Each is a talented running back, but Wilson is the real deal and could become league's best in a short time. His speed and ability to run between the tackles will put pressure on Bradshaw sometime this season.
New York Jets CB Antonio Cromartie
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No question that the New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie is considered one of the most overrated cornerbacks in the NFL.
Cromartie has talent, but doesn’t have the inner drive to become a shutdown corner and is very content in being the other cover guy in a defensive scheme. He does excel in man-to-man, but seems lost in zone coverage and his tackling skills are less than desirable, often described as a well-skilled matador.
Cromartie’s days as starting cornerback with the Jets might be ending soon, as Kyle Wilson has turned himself into a very serviceable player.
If he’s going to become a starter, then Wilson must do a better job of tracking a pass in the air. Also, he gives too much cushion in defending receivers downfield. While Wilson’s play has improved in the preseason, the jury is still out on his pass-defending ability.
Oakland Raiders QB Carson Palmer
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Last season, the Oakland Raiders mortgaged their future for a shot at an AFC West division title, as they traded a first- and second-round draft choice to Cincinnati for quarterback Carson Palmer.
This wasn’t a popular decision due to Palmer's declining skills. He threw too many interceptions, lacked mobility to avoid pressure in the pocket and simply could not make enough plays to change momentum in key games. The Raiders came woefully short in their quest for a playoff berth.
This season, Terrelle Pryor will start a game at quarterback for the Raiders. He’s a dual threat that forces opposing defenses to play honest. Pryor has a smooth, tight release on his passes, and this preseason, he worked to improve on his footwork in the pocket. His coaches feel this will help with Pryor’s accuracy in throwing the long ball.
He could become the bright light that leads the Raiders out of a decade of futility.